Some people would say that the word ‘Control’ could be interpreted as negative or aggressive. While this may be true, when we talk about emotional intelligence it becomes an incredibly important word, especially around expressing emotions. After a difficult interaction we often think back and wonder whether if we had acted differently, changed the way we said something, or maybe even listened better, would the outcome have been different?
Difficult interactions can result in difficult outcomes. If a person expresses anger at you, gesturing and moving towards you in an angry manor, what would your natural reaction be? Do you confront, defend, or retreat? It is rare that we would attempt to apply a rationale to the situation, to try to understand ‘why is this person approaching me in this way?’ Emotional intelligence teaches us about awareness and control, and how to manage our emotions and the emotions of others.
I experienced the negative side of control on a recent business trip. At the airport check in on the return leg home I was told my bag was too heavy. Although slightly confused (as it was the same weight as travelling out), my thoughts were on getting home so I offered to pay for any excess weight to resolve any issues. Thinking this would be fairly straightforward I was surprised when this was not accepted and I was advised to remove items from my luggage until it was satisfactory.
This is the point where emotional intelligence of the staff at check in would have been beneficial!
Before I had the chance to properly consider and respond to what had been stated (which was a fair request), another managerial member of staff approached the desk and aggressively stated that my bag was not going on the flight unless I removed items from it. This person wouldn’t listen, wouldn’t allow me to speak and after talking at me, put their hand up to gesture “conversation over” and just walked away. While some people might believe that this is controlling the situation and is acceptable customer service, I did not. Not only did the interaction leave me feeling unhappy, but the personnel left at the desk were visibly tense and uncomfortable. (I should point out that I did remove the items from my bag to make the weight acceptable)!
Interactions like these are often put out of mind and filed away as a bad or negative experience. However, is there a long term effect? How do I view the airline after my customer experience?
I have a perception and attitude change towards the airline. The chances of me flying with this airline again are extremely remote as I do not desire to replicate the experience I had with them. There was no empathy from the manager. Empathy is critical to creating a positive customer experience from something potentially negative. How we approach and interact with people when providing a service is of the upmost importance. Emotional intelligence empowers us to deliver the best outcomes for the given situation.
Negative outcomes of an interaction can have a prolonged effect on an individual. When you overcome the surprise or shock of a negative encounter, you feel the necessity to discuss it and do something about it. From this particular experience, the check-in people did not know who I was, or whether I was important to their business or not. They didn’t consider the long term effect a negative customer experience could have on their roles or even their business. When we interact with others we should never assume anything, but instead focus on using our emotional intelligence to deliver a positive outcome, a ‘meeting of minds’, no matter who the person is.
Understanding how to use our emotions when we enter an interaction is paramount to a successful outcome. For every interaction I have, I reflect on the experience and evaluate if I applied my emotions intelligently: Was empathy displayed? Did I and the people involved in the interaction control and manage our emotions? How did I feel after the interaction? What is my perception of the people/business now?
Emotional intelligence has become a critical factor in the development of business and people performance, within challenging and aggressive industries it provides that competitive edge.